OVER THE PAST decade or so, tap dancing has not only been revived, but reborn. Grand masters like Charles (Honi) Coles and The Copasetics play to enthusiastic audiences; younger hoofers follow -- quite literally -- in their mentors' footsteps, concurrently taking off in their own directions. Few groups exemplify this trend better than the Jazz Tap Ensemble, a West Coast-based troupe of three dancers and three musicians performing this weekend at the Terrace Theater.

These performers revel in rhythm, whether it emanates from a pair of feet, a drum or a bass fiddle. They find inspiration in the music of Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Irving Berlin and contemporary composers. Sometimes a dancer trades riffs with the musicians, other times a dancer and musican go one on one, and suddenly all six have gotten into thet.

If you're a blues fan, keep your eye on Lynn Dally, one of the gutsiest, feet-into-the-floor hoofers around. If your tastes tend more toward Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, Fred Strickler's your man. This unaffected gent moves with a lightness and panache worthy of the movie musical's golden age. He's equally at home with syncopation, machine-gun rhythms and the dreamier, improvisational style exemplified in his "Tone Poem."

Don't be surprised if you wake up the next day with a burning desire to sign up for tap dancing lessons. JAZZ TAP ENSEMBLE -- Friday and Saturday at 6:30, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets $12.50.